Susanne Schulz-Falster Rare Books has published a catalogue for Autumn 2021. It offers a collection of varied material, some pieces in English, others in European languages. As for the subjects, they have provided a list of them, and here they are: Almanacs & Calendars, Cards, Games & Lotteries, Censorship & Libraries, Economics, Trade & Business, Illustrated, Juveniles & ABC, Manuscripts & Annotated Books, Religion & Popular Piety, Science & Technology, Travel – Inland & Abroad, Typography & Printing, and Women. Here are a few selections.
The first book illustrates a tradition that has been going on in Venice for eight, maybe nine centuries. There have been many stops and starts along the way, but it most recently reappeared in 1979 and is now more popular than ever. This is Carnivale, the Venetian Carnival. It is sort of Venice's Mardi Gras, but it goes on for many weeks prior to Lent. Carnivale is noted for its masks and costumes, as people dress up in various costumes, some of commonly used figures, others of average people. When masked everyone gets to become someone else, and all are equal, rich and poor, noble and peasant, when their identity is hidden. The book is Il Carnevale Italiano Mascherato... by Francesco Bertelli, published in 1642. The illustrations depict costumed Venetians in various poses appropriate to their depicted roles. The freedom of anonymity also led to behavior often frowned upon by authorities, licentiousness and such, which explains why there were so many stops of the celebration along the way. Priced at £15,000 (British pounds, or approximately $20,170 in U.S. dollars).
Here is a book you will want if you have children who sit around playing video games and social networking all day (providing they speak French). Schulz-Falster describes this as a “first edition of the first French book on gymnastics and physical exercise for the young.” The title is La Gymnastique de la Jeunesse, by Jean A. Amar DuRivier and Louis F. Jauffret, published in 1803. It stresses the importance of physical exercise for the development of children and then describes all sorts of games they can play. There's hide and seek, high jumping and pole vaulting, hopscotch, tag, wrestling, swimming, archery, shuffleboard, ten-pin bowling, billiards, kite flying, rope climbing and swinging, balance bars, stilt-walking, swings, skating, skipping rope, tumbling, horse riding, dancing, fencing, the list goes on, including many no longer played. This will certainly keep the young in good shape. £1,500 (US $2,017).
This next item is a measure of the Holy Length, something I admit I had never heard of before, but apparently was quite popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was said to protect the possessor from all sorts of calamities, though it probably wasn't all that effective or we would still be using it today. It is called Nach dem wahren und Gerechten Original abge messene wahrafte Lange unsers Herrn Jesu Christi... (true length of our Lord Jesus Christ measured according to the true and righteous original). Its narrow and folded length was that of the height of Jesus Christ, though I don't know how they determined that. The sections are 175 mm in length. That would make Jesus about 7 inches tall, which seems shorter than I would have expected. However, it contains many folding sections, judging by the image ten of them. That would make Jesus a more believable 5' 9”. This Holy Length was created in 1755. £1,500 (US $2,017).
Here is another first – the first coloring book! The book is Original Fables by the Reverend John Kidgell, published in 1763. Schulz-Falster describes this as a “first edition of Kidgell's charming Original Fables, the first book to have illustrations designed to be coloured-in by children.” The book is uncommon as it was printed for private circulation. Clergyman Kidgell led a good life under the patronage of Lord March, but when he became involved in an affair over pornography of politician John Wilkes, he was forced to flee the country. His damaged reputation may explain the scarcity of this book. He never returned and is believed to have died in poverty in Flanders. £2,500 (US $3,360).
Would you like to know how the world is going to end? Maybe not, but curiosity gets the better of us. Here is the answer. The title is Die Welt in Feuer, Oder das Wahre Vergehen und Ende der Welt durch den letzten Sund-Brand (The world on fire, Or the true perishing and the end of the world by the last sound-fire). Author Jodocus Leopold Frisch saw an apocalyptic ending when he published his book in 1746. Schulz-Falster explains, “the Earth is depicted as an erupting geological mess, in a sea of fire and blaster volcanoes, lightning striking from above.” Frisch was a theologian and naturalist, which explains this odd combination of science and apocalyptic theology. He was knowledgeable in geology, which enabled him to describe geological events, but his interpretation of the Bible led to some frightening conclusions. £7000 (US $9,410).